Microsoft: Competing AV vendors need to remember who the bad guys are

Some vendors, particularly in China, are playing hardball to get their antivirus products installed

AV vendors, in fierce competition for users, should remember that cooperation is key in fighting malware, a top Microsoft security official said Friday.

Data sharing between vendors has resulted in a drop in the overall number of malware families affecting computers, said Dennis Batchelder, director of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center, at a conference of the Association of Antivirus Asia Researchers in Sydney.

The numbers of computers encountering one of those top 20 families of malware have dropped from 24 million a month to 13 million a month over the last two years, he said.

Batchelder said the data covers broad-spectrum malware and not mobile threats or so-called "advanced persistent threats," a label usually attached to more sophisticated, targeted attacks.

The improvement is due in part to better cooperation among security companies, which in turn have become a lot better at automating the processing of new malware samples and using big data and cloud computing to analyze it, Batchelder said.

But there are new companies into the antimalware field, which sometimes don't play fairly, he said.

"We have to remember who the bad guys are," Batchelder said. "It's not each other."

Antivirus software is a money spinner for the industry even though experts say it may miss highly targeted attacks. But it is still recommended that consumers use an AV product, as it can block standard malware that steals login credentials or personal data.

But Batchelder said in the last year he has seen several antivirus products wrapped into bundles of unrelated software. He saw one example where AV was included in a fake Java update. The AV program was legitimate, but the same installation technique is used by hackers to trick people into installing malware.

"If we're not careful, AV is going to turn into unwanted software," he said.

In China, antivirus vendors have at times engineered their products to remove their competitors' products from people's computers, he said.

In other cases, users may be blocked from running an AV program unless another application is removed, such as a chat app. The situation may occur if a software company isn't a pure play security vendor and offers other products, such as a search toolbar. That essentially turns AV into a weapon, Batchelder said.

Remedying the scenario means holding marketing departments accountable, Batchelder said.

"If we fall in a heedless pursuit of competitors, we hurt our customers," he said. "We have a job to do."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securityMicrosoftmalwareExploits / vulnerabilitiesDesktop security

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?